I decided to continue with a theme from one earlier post and highlight one of the many beautiful musical tracks from Pixar’s latest movie ‘Soul.’ While portions of it had me going ‘uh?’ this movie took big risks to talk about a big theme: What is the meaning of our own lives? It’s visually stunning, especially taking New York scenes to new levels. This film would make a great companion piece to Coco, another stunning film exploring family, life, and death.
Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner, a jazz musician supplementing the pursuit of his dream like other musicians, and even writers, by teaching. In his case, a middle school jazz band class. A former students recommends him for band leader Dorothea Williams, a jazz idol to Joe. On the day he gets the gig, he falls down a sewage hole and we begin the odyssey of Joe wanting to return to earth and encountering 22 who clearly does not want to go to Earth at all. They spend the movie looking for the ‘spark,’ what gives 22 and other souls their Earth badge therefore ready to go and be born. If this reads choppy, I am trying hard to not give away the whole movie. While it does have flaws, Pixar taking a chance advances animation and storytelling. It also feels more like a film for adults and holder kids.
Much like Coco, Soul looks different now that my parents are gone. The latter touches on life’s meaning as stated earlier and lately I wrestled with meaning. Every time I go to Assumption Cemetery, sometimes after a hard day at work, I looked around at the names etched on headstones. They came had dreams, maybe some didn’t fulfill those dreams, some may have had hard lives, unresolved issues. They worried about money, mortgages, bills, and the other minutiae of daily life. They clashed with coworkers, they may have loved their workplaces, had friend groups thanks to those settings, or it’s a way to pay the bills. Did they live, truly live? I don’t know. My parents would say ‘yes.’ They came and had a family, explored Canada, and as their lives stretched behind them knew they would face the great unknown.
Soul the movie made me turn to what constitutes life, what it means to live. My to-do list has less accomplishments, although those have a place just no high up, and more what do I want my life to mean? I want it to mean more kindness, to stand firm against the chaos, to leave the door open for others to walk through the way it did for me. I noticed speaking out more and that comes with a price. I have learned to say no to some things to say yes to the things that matter.
Back to the track, while not giving away a specific plot point, the piano itself suggests a hesitancy over an issue as it adds notes in a slow realization before building to more instruments, step by step, note by note, feeling more assured as it builds to its climax. It’s worth seeing this piece as it accompanies a crucial scene in ‘Soul.’ It’s hard to believe one of the co-writers for this track was the front man for Nine Inch Nails then again his song ‘Hurt’ gave Johnny Cash a signature song in his final years. The track allows to affirm, reflect, or uplift whatever thoughts about life, or soul, a person may have at a moment, or moments, in time.